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Must Differences Be Compulsory?

By Dr. Arthur Robinson
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #17, 1997.

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Dr. Arthur Robinson


What should be the composition of a quality education? The answer is obvious - reading, writing, and arithmetic; where arithmetic gradually includes science as the student's mathematical skills increase, and reading includes the broad general knowledge of literature and the world without which no person can be considered educated.

But now, the list of subjects some homeschooled families consider for the reading part of their curriculum includes something called "multiculturalism."

What is multiculturalism? In actual academic context, it is no more than the same information that used to be taught under the headings of geography and history and government. It is a delightful fact that the world is made up of all sorts of people who live in many different ways. Any encyclopedia printed before about 1960 reveals hundreds of articles describing, without prejudice, the curious ways of people in other countries and geographical locations. Books recording these sorts of facts have been popular for thousands of years - going back to Julius Caesar and before. No first-rate selection of books from the great writers of the English language can avoid containing many selections of this type. In addition, America has always been a melting pot of people from many different places, so within our own country, we have had an opportunity to live with many different sorts of people.

Yet now we have this new word, "multiculturalism." This word has been brought to us by the dead hand of government and by political agitators who seek to use American schools as mechanisms for social engineering rather than institutions of learning. By this word and the propaganda that surrounds it, they seek to introduce "values" into the differences between different human beings - the difference itself being the value - and they themselves being the self-anointed custodians of that manufactured value. No longer agreeing with Thomas Jefferson and our other founding fathers that all people are created equal and that each person should have an equal right before the law to life, liberty, property, and an opportunity to better himself by adopting the best examples set by other people, the state schools teach that all people should be forced to remain different so that their "cultures" will not change.

The Inequity of a Watered-Down Curriculum

The latest example of multiculturalism is being called "ebonics." Ebonics is supposed to be a culturally different (and therefore automatically valuable) language spoken in part of the black community. In fact, it is nothing more than a hodge-podge of slang and poor grammar that has arisen as black students, deprived of a decent education by public schools, seek to communicate with one another. Let me illustrate by telling a personal story:

After I finished graduate school at the University of California at San Diego and was given a faculty position there, I spent much extracurricular time with my graduate students and the other graduate students, since we were of the same age. Some of this time was whiled away at a beer and hamburger joint in La Jolla known as El Sombrero. I shall never forget one evening there.

As several of us sat at a back table, the El Sombrero door was suddenly filled by a tough-looking character whose dark skin perfectly matched his leather jacket. The first rule of survival in such situations being no eye contact, I immediately became unusually attentive to the discussion underway at our table.

To my astonishment, however, the new arrival sauntered over to our table and sat down. He knew the graduate students. It turned out that he was also one of my fellow faculty members - assigned to the "third college," a new division of the university for minority students that still had no name because of an ongoing squabble over which third-world revolutionary to name it after (Lumumba-Zapata being the most recent discard).

What followed was a discourse on "third-world" and black-power politics in which I took no part - being unprepared academically, politically, or even psychologically for the prejudices of my esteemed colleague. (Actually, I just wanted to stay out of a fight.)

Eventually, however, the subject turned to teaching. I was at the time teaching freshman chemistry to a class of 300 students and found myself pointing out that I made no effort whatever to tailor the goals of my course to separate standards for minority students or any other group regardless of their preparation or ability. In my opinion, they all needed to know the same material in order to be prepared for the same post-academic world, or - at the very least - they needed to realize that they did not know the material, so that they could plan accordingly.

The black professor's response was immediate. "You are right!" he said. "Your course is tough. I know, I'm tutoring two students in your class. But you are exactly right. our worst enemies are these white liberals who teach watered-down courses to our people and turn them into permanent second-class citizens."

This conversation took place 25 years ago. Today, both the black professor and I would both be in serious trouble for not considering the "cultural diversity" of black students - or Spanish students, or whatever other racial group the state bureaucrats wished to keep on the Plantation of multiculturalism. We would be fired for racial insensitivity, or would have long ago quit in disgust.

Teaching the Truth

My advice to homeschool parents is to teach geography, history, and government largely from books which were written in the 1950's and earlier, before it became popular to teach overt racism under the rubric of "multiculturalism."

First, racism is morally wrong. It should not be taught to students. Second, the world is composed of people of many different races and backgrounds with whom your students will interact as they go through life. Every person they meet during their lives must have an equal opportunity in their eyes - eyes that have been trained to see the similarities between all human beings and not the differences.

Racism has no place in the education of an upright young Christian - it is a false religion. Teach the truth to your students. Leave lies like "multiculturalism" and other racist activities to the schools of the secular humanist state.


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